Dark, seasonal flows emanate from bedrock exposures at Palikir Crater on Mars in this image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. These flows, now documented at several places on Mars, form and grow during warm seasons when surface temperature is warm enough for salty ice to melt, and then fade or completely disappear in the colder season.
The location of this site is about 41.6 degrees south latitude, 202.3 degrees east longitude. The season was summer on southern Mars when this image was taken on June 27, 2011. Three arrows point to bright, smooth fans left behind by flows. The scale bar at lower right indicates 50 meters (164 feet). North is up.
These dark, warm-season flows are called "recurring slope lineae" or RSL. Researchers are using observations from Mars orbiters to study the possibility that RSL result from action of salty liquid water. Examples of RSL sites observed over a sequence of seasons are at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA14472 and http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA14475 .
This image, included in a paper by Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, and co-authors in Geophysical Research Letters, is one product from the HiRISE observation catalogued as ESP_023045_1380. Other products from the same observation are available at http://uahirise.org/ESP_023045_1380 .
The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Browse Image | Medium Image | Full Res Image (NASA's Planetary Photojournal)